A US Army Private recently related how the pagan community at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, helped him find his way:
I graduated [training] a few weeks ago and only got to attend one gathering, It was a great experience…I was raised in an environment always surrounded in crystals and meditation, energy and magics, Reiki and healing, spirits and the like, but no words to put to what I knew…
It wasn’t until I went to the circle at Fort Jackson that I could definitively say I’m a white magic practitioner and hold pagan beliefs as far as karmic law and universal ties and energy go…
HeatStreet recently published a blog on the Fort Jackson pagan circle, which it claims now Read more
While the US Air Force Academy is regularly accused of being dominated by Christianity, its support for other faith systems routinely goes unnoticed or unpublicized (even by its own Public Affairs, apparently):
Selena Fox, who calls herself a Wiccan priestess, was recently hosted by the USAFA chaplains. (She’s holding a chapel coin.) They took a hike with some local pagans up to Falcon Circle, formerly known as the LZ, an “outdoor chapel” area created with some intent to host earth-centered religious adherents a few years ago.
When the US Air Force Academy “Falcon Circle” chapel facility went through its various controversies over the past year, one group was oddly silent: atheists. There were no loud cries from atheists over the US military’s waste of money to create yet another religious facility, nor were there any over the fact military atheists can’t even use the facility.
Like many US military bases, USAFA restricts the use of chapel facilities to religious gatherings:
All services held at the Cadet Chapel must be religious in nature and be conducted by a clergyperson or led by a lay-leader approved by the Cadet Wing Chaplain or designee.
Thus, unless an atheist group can sincerely say it is “religious in nature,” it can’t use the Falcon Circle as a barbecue pit this summer, while every religious Read more
The 2011 edition of the annual “Wastebook” (pdf) published by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), which contains a list of “wasteful and low priority government spending,” includes the “Falcon Circle” erected by the US Air Force Academy earlier in the year.
79) Air Force Academy Builds “Stonehenge-like Worship Center” – (CO) $51,474
The worship center is “for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of ‘Earth-based,'” which includes Wiccans, druids and pagans.
Three students out of 4,300 students self-reported as currently having an “earth-based” religion…
The American people support religious freedom, but this investment challenges their faith in government to ever make smart budget choices.
Senator Coburn seems to make the point that his complaint is an issue of “smart budget choices” rather than a lack of desire to support religious freedom. It’s also important to note that millions of dollars are spent on US military facilities to support the religious liberty of US troops.
While one could argue the “per capita” for pagans was Read more
The Los Angeles Times is fast becoming a frequent commenter on all things military and religion, with the US Air Force Academy high on that list. In an unusual twist from the norm, its articles are biased toward the positive.
(For example, it published the original story about the baptism of US Marines to which Michael Weinstein objected, and most recently gave favorable coverage to the Camp Pendleton cross, now a controversy in its own right.)
In its most recent article on the topic, it notes the “Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans:”
“We’re here to accommodate all religions, period,” [USAFA Chaplain (Maj) Darren] Duncan says. The building of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the hilltop, he says, is no different from the past conversion of chapel rooms into worship spaces that serve this year’s 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 10 Hindu cadets. There are also 43 self-identified atheist cadets whose beliefs, or lack of them, Duncan says are also to be respected.
Never one to let good will go unspoilt, the article quotes Michael Weinstein as saying he Read more
USAFA has its “Falcon Circle,” and just down the street Fort Carson has its unique religious “chapel” as well.
As previously noted, the Turkey Creek ranch US Army facility of Fort Carson has been used for some years to support the religious freedom of men and women in the US military of all kinds. The kind of worship? A native American sweat lodge.
Michael Hackwith is the local spiritual leader and leads the group in Read more
The creation of a “pagan area” under the auspices of the US Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel was highly controversial more than a year ago. Originally, a “dedication” was scheduled in March 2010. It seems the ceremony was delayed more than a year.
USAFA announced it had dedicated the “Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle” last week on May 3rd. As previously discussed, the US military does not make a site “sacred,” so the “dedication” seems to have been more ceremonial or functional in nature.
Interestingly, the article seems to indicate a slight tweak on the original purpose of the outdoor chapel. Originally, USAFA was said to be adding “a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions.” The new wording was somewhat more careful this year: Read more